Building Partnerships: A Conversation with Ashoka Fellow Mohammad Al-Ubaydli and Boehringer Ingelheim Executive Joseph Chalil

Dr. Mohammad Al-Ubaydli is the founder of Patients Know Best (PKB), a technology platform that allows patients to securely view their medical records and share their information with other doctors and family members, giving individual patients easy access to and control over their medical data. Dr. Joseph Chalil, a Physician and Executive at the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, worked alongside Mohammad and his team through the Executive in Residence program to help PKB build strategic partnerships in the US and develop a strategy to scale their operations to new markets. During an interview with Ashoka, Joseph and Mohammad discussed the impact of their collaboration:

What were your most significant personal takeaways from the Executive in Residence experience?

Mohammad: One interesting take away for me was an observation of Joe’s about our team. He commented on how collaborative, passionate and committed our team is. It’s interesting that we naturally developed this collaborative, open environment. Now I am actively looking for these qualities during the hiring process.

Joseph: This experience has made me more loyal to Boehringer because it demonstrated how much BI cares about and invests in improving and innovating global healthcare. The experience gave me insight into how start-ups like PKB are working hard to create solutions to problems in healthcare that exist not only in UK but around the world. I’m thankful to Mohammad and his team for creating this innovative platform. I hope to continue to help PKB build partnerships in the US and elsewhere.

"This experience has made me more loyal to Boehringer because it demonstrated how much BI cares about and invests in improving and innovating global healthcare." Joseph

What’s the most significant way that Executive in Residence has impacted your organization?

Mohammad: We have gained a much better understanding of market needs in the United States and how utilize this information to develop an effective expansion strategy and build partnerships. We have a new recruit coming from Florida to work with our office in the UK. We are hoping that he will be our vanguard for expanding operations in the US.

Joseph: PKB’s model offers an innovative solution to a common challenge in the healthcare industry. Boehringer UK team met with PKB to learn more about their organization and the potential for partnerships and collaborations. I believe this is a great opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to bring value to patients and find new ways to improve healthcare delivery.

How has partnering with an organization with a different value proposition impacted your view of innovative ways of achieving social impact?

Mohammad: We learned a lot about how Boehringer makes long-term corporate decisions. The focus on the long term rather than on quarterly returns is one of Boehringer’s main strengths and it was valuable to learn from one of their own.

Joseph: Although our organizations are very different, we are both in the healthcare industry. Ultimately, all organizations in healthcare aim to improve care for patients. PKB truly cares about the patients and wants to help them by improving the delivery of healthcare and everyday operations. Healthcare is about more than making a return on an investment. What’s important at the end of the day is that the patients are benefiting.

Has this experience changed your perspective on the world?

Mohammad: Every time I sit down with Joe, the world becomes a bigger place. He has so much varied experience and such a wide network. His input has been instrumental in helping us discover new ways to grow through strategic partnerships.

Joseph: In the past I have worked with multiple government or pseudo-government institutions to improve healthcare and change disconnected healthcare policies. However, government doesn’t always have all the solutions. Social entrepreneurs like Mohammad and other Ashoka Fellows are creating innovative solutions to some of healthcare’s toughest problems. Partnering with social entrepreneurs along with government may be the best way to find solutions to provide cost effective healthcare. Government, social entrepreneurs and patients can benefit from these partnerships. It’s a win-win-win. 

What’s Next?

Joseph: We are working to develop potential global partnerships for PKB. Next week Mohammad and I are invited to Bracknell for BI UK’s “Value through Innovation Day” and to participate in a panel discussion along with Allan Hillgrove, member of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Board of Directors and BI-UK Leadership. Also, multiple healthcare providers in USA have expressed interest in meeting with PKB including one of the US’s largest hospital systems.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared on on 28 May 2015